One of the most brilliant marketing schemes was the introduction of the kid sidekick in comics. This gave children a character to whom they could instantly relate, and by the time all was said and done, dragging a child with you into combat with desperate criminals and Nazi soldiers was simply the rational thing to do.
But, of course, it wasn't the rational thing to do at all. It was dangerous and stupid, unless the kid had super-powers like yours (such as Toro or Kid Flash). One of the worst cases of child endangerment came along the lines of Captain America's sidekick, Bucky.
Yup, the Japanese caricature is correct. The adult has a shield and the child has no protection whatsoever.
But we can't dwell on that, can we?
Um.... ok. I'm sure that Bucky will appreciate the sentiment as bullets are whizzing past his head that, metaphorically speaking, one shield is good enough for the both of them.
Of course, in modern comics, there have been numerous explanations given as to why this was appropriate (if not downright necessary), but even the valiant attempt currently in place to make Bucky a prepubescent killing machine (a concept I find hilarious, and I always kind of liked Bucky) can't hide the fact that Captain America dragged a child with him into armed combat, often on the front line, sans any weapons or real protection of any kind. The poor kid didn't even have a helmet.
No, the cynical truth is that, if we are to employ any kind of logic at all, is that the kid sidekick was brought on board by the hero to be the first in line to catch the bullet. It's kind of like in the original Star Trek when the landing party was Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Rabonowitz. You just knew that if there was a dark cave to be explored or a fight to the death, Rabonowitz was a goner.
And I'm not just picking on Cap here:
All these kids made it to adulthood somehow. But Ted Kord is dead. The world makes no sense to me.
See you tomorrow!